By Ochuko Akuopha
UGHELLI — WOMEN of Igbide, in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State, yesterday, thronged the Oroni flow station, being operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited, HEOSL, in the community, protesting alleged incessant gunshots and oil bunkering activities by some individuals.
The protesters told the state government and the company to take steps to end the oil bunkering activities before the end of September, failing which the community would take a decision that would not be favourable to them.
Displaying cassava stems and placards, which bore various inscriptions such as ‘Igbide Community condemns pipeline vandalisation/bunkering activities’, ‘Stop the pollution, stop the shooting, make the environment safe for all’, ‘Put a stop to bunkering activities to save lives’, amongst others, the protesters noted that the pollution of their farmlands, water and air in the community by the oil bunkers was adversely impacting on the health and economic lives of the people.
Speaking during the protest, President-General of the community, Chief Egba Ugolo, alleged that “those involved in the bunkering activities shoot everyday to scare the women from accessing their farms, they don’t want anybody to come close to where they have these illegal activities going on.
“Our women no longer go to their farms for fear of being killed. They cannot harvest their cassava. You go to bed with fear, you wake up with fear, because they shoot in the evenings till the mornings and in the mornings, you start hearing gunshots.
“Illnesses are on the increase, the entire community is fed up. We have complained to the state governor, we have complained to the LGA chairman, we have complained to the 181 Battalion. The women are tired and fed up.
“We are calling on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to come to our rescue, let him put an end to the bunkering activities so that our mothers and wives can access their farmlands. We are also calling on security agencies to do their job.”
A woman leader in the community, Chief Grace Egwero, said: “Ever since they started oil bunkering in our community, we have been suffering. We cannot even use rain water to wash our dishes let alone other purposes due to pollution.”
On her part, secretary of the community’s women, Mrs. Egage Edafe, said: “Our farming activities have stopped because of oil bunkering activities and our crops are now rotting away.
“The smoke from the oil bunkering is polluting our environment and this is not good for the health of our people.”